There comes a time in every gestation when you cease to be “cute pregnant” and start to be “scary pregnant”. I’m not talking about mood swings, either. You know you’re there when strangers stop trying to rub your belly and instead try to stop staring… after all, you’re so big your baby might actually be a basketball, and who wants to birth one of those? You’re no longer “glowing”… you’re simply red-faced and out of breath from the exertion of trying not to fall over. Your round little baby belly that mere months ago looked like body butter advertisements has now ballooned to planetary proportions, and the rest of you is helpless against its gravity. You used to be able to balance your bowl of ice cream on your tummy while reclining on the couch, but now it begins to slide towards your now over overly-ample bosom. No more the inquiring grocery store oohs and aahs over when your baby is due; instead, you are offered a Rascal for your convenience and asked politely not to deliver in Aisle 11.
At this particular point, everything going on below the maternity support belt is a complete mystery to you, and probably has been for some time. No longer can you see your toes, small children or where you’ll be taking your next step. However, lest you think this is all bad, some might consider it a distinct advantage to be in ignorant bliss of varicose veins, underbelly stretch marks, linea negra, hemorrhoids, and the swollen cankles brought on by unavoidable fluid retention. So what if you can’t paint your toe nails without an extension pole? So what if you can no longer shave your legs because you can’t reach them or balance in the shower? So what if you can’t see the ever-increasing number on the scale? It would probably not go over well anyway.
There seems to be no end to the impossible skin stretching, gasping for air, back discomfort and pelvic achiness, and the people around you are becoming legitimately anxious. Not so much for you and the baby, but apprehensive about what in the world they would do if your water broke right in front of them. How does one deliver a baby? Before I had my first kid, my free ride to work was contingent on the fact that I not give birth in the car during the drive. It would have been terribly inconvenient for my coworker… I’m sure it’s no fun to clean up the “goo of life”. This is why most people go to the hospital or birth center to have their baby, after all (isn’t it?). Put me through labor but, please dear loving God, don’t make me clean that up.
Well, let’s come to it… at 34 weeks, I am rapidly approaching that scary point, and I’m not quite sure how I’ll make it to the end. I will make it, to be sure, but the actual process of going from pre-natal to post-natal seems strangely curious to this experienced mom of three. I’ve done this several times before, I keep telling myself, and yet… I just don’t remember how it happens! The miracle of birth encompasses several miracles, really, including the ability of a body to forget the agony and occasional indignity of some of life’s most profound moments (luckily, you do tend to remember the really good parts).
For my sake and for that of the people biting their fingernails when I waddle by these days, I’m tempted to put together an emergency birth kit… all the stuff someone would need to deliver my baby if I don’t make it to the hospital. I know I should be packing the birth bag, finishing the nursery or completing the prerequisite paperwork, but I just can’t help that my mind goes to 911 scenarios instead of pastel wall colors or picking a name. It’s part of the territory of impending motherhood. Resistance is futile.
But what would go in this kit? A tarp, for starters. Avoidance of “goo of life” on furniture, floor coverings and auto upholstery is crucial to the success of a delivery gone rogue. Then something to tie off the umbilical cord in two places, and scissors to cut it, of course. For some reason I also think it would be handy to have a bucket for the placenta (yeah, I said it), because it would have to go somewhere. I mean, someone would want to look at it, right? Hopefully someone with obstetrical background… to make sure nothing was amiss to cause hemorrhaging, right? And blankets. And towels. And diapers… Usually, once I get to the part where I’m considering diapers, it occurs to me that I would require something akin to a diaper for tidiness purposes before baby and I are whisked away from our adventurous birth experience to be examined by the medical community at large. It’s then that I decide I’d better get down to the business of preventing that scenario instead of planning it.
But that’s where I am now. Feeling like a whale, imagining birthing a bowling ball in the bathtub before the paramedics arrive, and wondering how it will all truly come to pass. I know not the day nor the hour, and I hope I’m ready when it arrives. But I will probably put a towel in the car anyway... you know… just in case…
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